fran macilvey recent comments

written 419 days ago

Dear Judith

I just popped in to take a quick look at your latest offering, "Regularly Scheduled Program" and have read the first two and a half chapters. I have popped this on my WL and rated it for now, so that I can come back and read some more soon.

Meantime, some comments? This is very dynamic, with a great story line, good pacing and interesting characters with plenty of room for development. I like the setup.

Remember, though, to stay in character. Would Tracy use the expression "cerebral palsy" about a baby brother she has just met, and is struggling to cope with? Somehow, I think she would be more likely to confess to John, "He has something wrong with his legs and his head flops all over the place...." rather than say, "He has cerebral palsy...." which is a strange, difficult to spell expression that means so many different things, and which most people don't actually understand at all.

Also, "rust coloured eyes" sounds, I dunno, not very flattering.

Read aloud to check for places where a full stop would do better than a comma; and beware of making too many assumptions about what your readers will understand. In the miltary context, you can take quite a bit for granted, but some of the lingo is a little too loose to be easily understood. Reading aloud will help you to slow it down just enough to make it an easier read. The eye sometimes needs time to catch up, if you know what I mean.

I like this, though, so please keep going with it. I plan to come back and read a bit more soon. Meantime, best of luck, and thanks for posting this!

Fran xx :) view book

written 449 days ago

Dear Jane

It is a pleasure to be the first to comment on your new offering, "I Don't Want to Be Here". I can really sympathise with your MC, and with what she has to go through each day. Your writing is competent, careful and thoughtful, and there is no doubt that you have here the makings of something good.

However, I found it rather difficult to stay involved, perhaps because I felt that, although you were, understandibly, sketching the first chapters so that you could get to the main story, you could slow down and fill in a bit more detail, make more of the characters' early lives together. At the moment, especially in the first chapter, the text feels a bit disjointed, making sympathy for your MC that bit harder to hang on to. Nor am I entirely convinced by your use of italics to differentiate the time periods. The feeling I come away with is not that your MC is hard working and thoughtful, but that she is resentful and a bit insensitive. If that is not the impression you want to create, relaxing your text and telling us a bit more - maybe making two chapters out of the first and doing away with the italics - would help to add more context and depth (imvho).

You say at one point that Ann is now 53. Is this to signal passing time? I found that a bit confusing......? Again, if you might write a bit more around this, that would help to explain.

There is a lot of illness and dying here, too. I feel that you could easily afford to linger a bit, add more, so that we really can understand the pain that goes with these experiences. Each character has their own story to tell, which you can afford to sketch in lightly, even if they are just in the background. At the moment, what happens to them feels just a bit too incidental, as if you are in a hurry to get on.....said that, now, what's next?

I hope what I have suggested is helpful. Your story will do very well, given a bit more work and time. Beware of rushing, or of leaving too much unsaid. We are a bit dull sometimes, and need a few things spelled out.

All the best, always

Fran xx :) view book

written 450 days ago

Dear Grace

I have read the first seven upload chapters of "Sorry" just now. You write very well indeed of your suffering, and though perhaps your word count looks daunting, I have to say that it doesn't feel like that when I am reading your story. There are repetitions, too, but again, this is how it was for you, and repetition was and is part of the pattern, so it is there in the unfolding, in the telling.

I am struck by the deliberate cruelty of your parents - getting you pets and then just taking them away, because they could, as if to say, "what could we do that would really hurt her?" The sense of your own lack of worth permeates your whole thoughts, your reactions, all your understandings. And it is sad to see all the familiar coping strategies, the perfectionism, the working hard, and how even then, it was turned against you.

But you are coming out of that now, and people here can read about your struggles. What a gift you have given us. There is nothing wrong with your MS, and you don't really need to worry about that, anyway. The voice is clear and convincing, the details all relevant and powerful. Thank you for writing this. Top marks, and on my WL until I find room for a space on my shelf, which is the least I can do.

Fran :)

PS - have you started doing submissions yet? You could, quite easily. Just ask Spirit to help you. xx view book

written 453 days ago

Dear Frances

I don't know why this isn't published. Of course, I don't want to hurry you, Frances, and I am sure you have a lot to do, but this is very, very, very good. A bit gothic, which isn't necessarily to my taste - I prefer light and airy fairy. If I had been to a school like this one, I would probably have jumped off a parapet or something - is it really so bad? My school days feel like a picnic compared to this.

Anyway. Go girl, and find a(nother?) publisher.

Fran XX :-)) view book

written 461 days ago

Dear Catherine

I have just read the first three chapters of "A Painted Smile" which gives glimpses of your unstable and volatile childhood. I admire anyone who can so clearly convey the unhappiness at the heart of a family.

This is interesting reading, worthwile on a number of levels. Your story exposes how easliy we can become habituated to destructive behaviour and is a timely reminder that around children, we need to be careful to act gently and consistently, so that they can learn to trust us.

All the best with your writing!

Fran xx :)

Good luck w view book

written 462 days ago

Oooh, this is spooky, and I just read the first three chapters straight off. I haven't done that in a very long time.

I thought I would take a peek and see what all the fuss has been about, and I am so glad - so very glad! - not to have been disappointed. This is a carefully considered, well described piece of writing. Spooky, interesting and picturesque, I am sure that the rest will continue to be.

If I have any suggestions.....hmmm, not really.....I would perhaps tone down all the early talk of premonitions, been here before, deja vu; you don't need to emphasise this, as your readers will pick it up from the flow of the story, and there is nothing wrong in showing it, as the story unfolds. The familiarity could be picked up in the way she knows her way around, a resonance with parts of the house, or her uncanny knowledge of the layout, for example.

Your writing style is confident and careful, interesting and well paced. I wish you very well with this, though I cannot help thinking that on a postage stamp sized image, your cover design does not do your justice. Can hardly see it. Just a thought.

On my WL and five stars just now. May upgrade when I have a minute to read some more. Hope that is soon. I am impatient already.

All the best

Fran Macilvey xx :) view book

written 491 days ago

I have just read the first four chapters of "Ten Deep Footprints" and most of chapter 20.

I love the scope of your story, and its exciting, cosmopolitan feel. It feels sophisticated and grown up, which is quite hard to do. You carry that off well, and there is much wit in your writing, too.

It also moves forward, well paced and filled with details that bring your characters to life. There is a lot to love here, in your clever, well crafted writing!

I had a few thoughts which you can take or leave and which I shall send to your message page.

Meantime this is staying on my WL and is highly rated! All the best for the ed's desk. view book

written 513 days ago

Hey, Lil

This is just lovely! I have been grinning as I read the first few chapters and I thank you, most sincerely, for cheering me up this morning. You seem to have been editing too? The flow feels better than it did. All the parts fit together well.

And, I have it in mind to work on my sex scenes...

Still on my WL with an updated rating and hopefully a shelfie before too long.

XX :) view book

written 521 days ago

Dear Percy

I had a look at the first two chapters of "Rage" today. Your enthusiasm for story writing comes across clearly, and you have a good plot, which I would find the most difficult to organise in any story.

However, there are things you can do to make your story easier to read and more convincing. Two things are most obvious to me: more depth and more clarity with the text. If you would take more time over your descriptions, you could add more flavour. Then I, as the reader, would not feel "and then this happened, and then that happened" feeling...which gives your narrative a shallow, impatient flavour.

Secondly, you could clean up the presentation. Your chapter headings are confusing - you have a Giant "First" in the second chapter, and then you have nothing. ....your text could be tidied for grammar nits and for lots of annoying - hyphens - which are there to add drama - not to give a kind of writer's shorthand (which sends the signal that the writer can't be bothered to explain....)

Again, this suggests that more depth would be very helpful to you. Slow down, sometimes, and imagine yourself in the heroine's shoes. If she had sprained her ankle, would she be able to walk away from her interview, and would she be able to wear her new pink Jimmy Choo shoes with heels? I doubt it, but more time taken to explain that, might persuade me.

Best of luck with your writing!

Fran xx :) view book

written 544 days ago

Dear Ruko

I've been reading some more of your yummy book. There is nothing in it that a little editing wouldn't fix - you have a lovely style, a great story to tell, which I sincerely hope gets published.

Oh, I do love your sense of humour and the way you can paint a portrait with just a few words. Delicious! xxx :) view book

written 549 days ago

Dear Jack

This is very good. Your voice is confident and quite convincing, with the hint of derring do that fits the period well. I have read only the first two chapters for now, but the strangeness is unfolding nicely. This is another book I would love to settle down with and read a lot more of, though that will have to wait just now.

There is a lot to admire in your fluent and well considered writing, and in your believable. slightly off kilter scenario. The mix of fact and fiction is immensely attractive, though I find myself a little uncertain about your use of a "transgender" aspect: I am sure it's purpose will become clearer as the story unfolds.

I shall come to this again. Meantime, it gains high marks and keeps its place on my WL for the forseeable future. Excellent stuff.

Fran Macilvey, "Happiness Matters" and "Making Miracles" :-)) view book

written 552 days ago

Dear Ruko

I have read the first three chapters of "From Congo With Love" and am alternately amused, touched and depressed by what you write. The situation feels like hell well hidden in heaven. What you write about is slightly familiar to me: my father had postings in both the Congo and in Rwanda, before the genocide when one million people were murdered in three months. It still makes me very sad to think of it.

However, your writing is fresh and your style is funny, irreverant and chatty. I could just sit and read what you have written, all day. Your descriptions are vivid and so clearly set to the page, that I can feel myself at the scene; your discourse on different problems and tensions is enlightening. You have asked for suggestions for cuts, and I have to say, none so far.

I suggest you leave the question of cuts to an editor. Meantime, your narrative only wants the usual checking for smoothness and the occasional typo. Your immensely readable account is carefullly considered and wonderfully exposes the mind boggling complexities and absurdities of life as a peacekeeper in the DRC. The message is clear, that the ongoing civil wars are a complete waste of talent, resources and opportunities.

I hope that everyone reads your book. I intend to read more as soon as I can. Meantime, I give this top marks and a spot on my WL, until I can work out how to promote it to a shelf space.

Fran Macilvey, "Happiness Matters" / "Making Miracles" xxx :) view book

written 553 days ago

Dear Janet and Helen

I left a comment earlier, but I have been reading some more - your book is like that. I find that I just can't stop reading about you, Janet. The house is cold, and I really should go and put the tea on. But, well, your blow by blow account is really absorbing and gripping, and sad, and very well taken apart. So that I understand you.

This book is a truly momentous achievement, which makes me wonder how many other women in prison and making a mess of life have been raped and traumatised, left to pick up the pieces and some bits of dignity and just soldier on. You really make me wonder about that.

I can understand why your introduction is hesitant and rather too careful. And why you start your story slowly. Please, don't change it, even though you may decide to tighten it up a bit at the beginning. You have worked hard to get it here, and your story reads well. I hope you get this published and that lots of people read about you and your bravery.

Bless you, and good luck! Six stars and on my shelf ASAP.

Fran xxx :-))
view book

written 553 days ago

Dear Janet and Helen

I have read the first eight chapters of "The Stranger in My Life" as well as the last three chapters - if a book is exciting, I like to know what happens.

Your style is easy on the eye and very evocative: your narrative has a good flow. I enjoyed reading about farm life, which feels familiar: the taciturn farmer with poor hygiene and the hint of all feels right, and is conveyed well to the page.

Suggestions? Not many. I had a think about your intro and first chapter, uploads 1 and 2. I feel that there is almost enough in the story for you to just begin with Janet as a child and go on from there. You drop hints of what is to come, which keep me reading, so the fact that Fred Handford disappeared and Janet lost four days, could simply be two surprises to unfold, on the way to the reader's final discoveries.... how dramatic they would be.

I do like your "other side of the story" though, Janet's modern day visits to the psychologist. That story is very well considered and adds another interesting dimension.

So, may I perhaps suggest that you trim down your intro and chapter 1 as much as possible, so that you don't give away any secrets that would help to drive forward the story and keep your readers guessing? That Janet lives in a caravan with five dogs is intriguing enough, and we certainly want to know how she came to this pass. But keep your tinder as dry as possible, so that you don't reveal too much too soon? Just a suggestion.

Other than that, your MS only needs a small comb for syntax, for commas used where a full stop might be better. You have a few very long sentences which could easily be divided.

The best of luck with this. It has all the right ingredients, and is well written and easy to read.

Fran Macilvey, "Happiness Matters"
view book

written 564 days ago

Dear Joe

This is funny, and I love to read it because I enjoy a good laugh. You have put all your experiences to good use - yes, I remember you went on a trip to Munich and ate sossidges.... - and I am pleased that your writing style is so easy and conversational, with a great deal I can relate to. Genuine, funny and familiar. Thank you.

"Happiness Matters" and "Making Miracles". view book

written 568 days ago

Dear ER

Though not a "true crime" buff, I took a look at your book, because it is doing very well. I'm not sure what I expected to find, but overall, I was quite impressed. You marshall your facts and the dead straight delivery adds a certain credibility.

There is also the conversational tone, which makes the reading easier, though the facts are grim. You have a way of offering a gentle parody, making it clear that, for example, several drownings in one spot in the same circumstances can hardly be written off as coincidence......

All the best with this. Somehow, I know it will do well.

Fran XX :) view book

written 592 days ago

Dear Dyane

I have read the first two chapters of "The Purple Morrow" and even although this is not my usual choice of reading, I find much in your confident, fluent style that is very pleasing indeed. You write carefully, with good clear descriptions and varied, interesting and wide ranging vocab. Nothing lazy here at all. And no issues with typos or grammar that I could find.

I do agree with VLParker, that you might extend the scenes in the first chapter, just by a sentence or two, so that we have a little time to linger with Jeru and Aliyah. Given what is going to happen, there is room for gentleness, perhaps. Aliyah might pause to admire the rainbows over the waterfall, the lovers might kiss, while overhead the threatening scene builds. Shades of light and dark....

I am not sure about the expression "walnut eyes..." I eat lots of walnuts, and I think I know what you mean, but it sounds faintly....ugly...? Is that what you intend? ;-)

Watch the language in the second chapter. You are using a slightly olde worlde style which fits well, but there is the hint that you might slip into a slang which is just a bit too out of place? Yeah, a bit of casual is good, especially men in the pub having a good time, but be sure it does not feel out of place in the old fashioned atmosphere you have worked so hard to create.

All in all, impressive writing and a smooth clean MS. I do hope this does well for you. Staying on my WL and highly rated. Great stuff!

Fran :-)) view book

written 593 days ago

Dear Lenny

I like your practical, straight talking style. Your approach to self help is refreshingly direct and accessible, and I commend you for taking on a rather difficult subject and writing about it in a clear straightforward style.

There is room here for a bit of a clearing edit, by which I mean that you could read through what you have written and find stuff to trim back, for smoothness, for clarity and so that the pace keeps going. You may be writing a sort of "true story" but there is room for drama and excitement, too. As you are deliberately crossing genres, you have a clear run and can be inventive, as well as informative.

All the best with this. On my WL.

Fran :-)) view book

written 593 days ago

Dear Lilian

I have read the first three chapters of "Unspoken" and shall be very happy to read more on Monday. Meantime, I think you have a wonderful fresh style, for starters; a very good way of making your characters real, vivid - as in, alive - and engaging. They feel like a bunch of my friends, and there is nothing contrived in your portraits, your scenes or your dialogue.

Just occasionally, there is a bit of clunky wording, but I am sure that can be sorted with a bit of reading through. Almost as if you become a tad self conscious and it shows....but you needn't.

Your story is strong and engaging, and given the amount of chic lit available, that takes some doing. All the best with this! Highly rated and on my WL. I hope to give it some shelf time.

Fran XXX :-)) view book

written 595 days ago

Dear Maria

Reading more of what you have posted here, I am struck again by the restraint in your writing, which gives it such power. For all the sadness, nothing is laboured, or descends into sentiment. I could just read on, all day....thank you for articulating your position so clearly.

Lots of love

Fran :-)) view book